Birmingham Arts and Music (BAAM) Festival Returns This Weekend

Can lightning strike twice in the same place? Forces of nature are hard to contain, especially when it comes to the power of music.

At last year’s inaugural launch of the BAAM Festival, co-founder Sharrif Simmons and his band played “Beautiful Day,” where the superb bass player lays down this hard-thumpin,’ blood-pumpin,’ signature funk rhythm that makes you wanna jump, jump, up and down. And so the crowd at Stillwater Pub went wild. As much as I wanted to do the same, I couldn’t because I was holding my little video camera. Continue reading →

Brian T. Murphy's Birmingham Night Skyline, April 1, 2008.

Today’s Discussion on Birmingham Leadership

I mentioned last week that The Birmingham News would host a roundtable discussion about leadership in Birmingham with local leaders and the community.

Well, that discussion is taking place today at The News, where seating is limited. It will be streamed live from But those who want to join the discussion can take part via the online chat with columnist Eddie Lard. The event is from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. Continue reading →

The Picture That Changed Birmingham

The May 14, 1961, picture of Klansmen savagely beating non-violent Freedom Riders upon their arrival at the Birmingham Trailways bus station helped change the city’s course toward a destiny it has yet to achieve. Continue reading →

Amid the Rubble, A Beautiful Spirit Shines Through

I’ve dreamt of tornadoes before. But none of my dreams was ever like the one I had about two weeks ago. In it, the tornado funnels seemed to fall out of a blustery sky toward the ground, one after another, several at a time, two or three funnels in a swirling mass of dark gray clouds.

Another scene in this dream sequence that’s too ghastly for me to repeat here. It was terrible enough to make me wake up. I shoved those scenes deep into a mental corner as I would any bad dream and tried to forget them.

I wish I could wake up from the living nightmare that struck our state last week.To my great discomfort and sorrow, it was not a dream.  Continue reading →

A Hole in Our Community- Missing Doris Powell

There’s a hole in the fabric of Birmingham today. Doris Powell, a long-time neighborhood leader and transit advocate, died yesterday.

She died doing what she did best – communing with neighbors who were her constituents and co-leaders of the Northside community. Ms. Powell was among them at the Fountain Heights Neighborhood park when she collapsed and later died. Continue reading →

I Rode the Bus . . . And I Liked It

My New Year started with a bang: someone crashed into my car.

It was sitting there, parked on the street in front of my apartment, minding its own business, when, at some time in the night/early morning of Jan. 3 or so, some clown ran into it. No ice was involved in the making of this wreck, by the way. Alcohol, maybe.

Old Bessie (an Acura Legend) was the real-deal metal car, not some fiberglass mash-up. So whoever hit it damaged their vehicle, because little flecks of glass covered the hood of my car. But the hit knocked my car off its front-end axle. It was totaled. I don’t know who hit it because the offender took off never left a note or a message.

Because I didn’t have the type of insurance that covered the loss, I was carless for several weeks. Continue reading →

Gala With A Purpose: The 2011 Birmingham UNCF M.A.S.K.E.D. Fundraiser

I grew up hearing the slogan, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste,” not knowing the power behind the words.

I knew it was the catch phrase for the United Negro College Fund. Most of the time when I was growing up, it meant Lou Rawls would headline an all-star fundraising telethon for UNCF, much like Jerry Lewis did for muscular dystrophy around Labor Day.

So now, these many years later, I have a much better appreciation for what that slogan and those raised funds mean. Continue reading →


The Blueprint for Economic Prosperity: Is Birmingham Finally Ready?

Today, in Birmingham’s newest park — the result of community collaboration — comes the unveiling of a new plan for economic prosperity that is also the result of community collaboration.

The Birmingham Business Alliance will formally release Blueprint Birmingham, a strategic action plan that might finally help Birmingham unleash its always latent but awesome potential. If followed with the same thoughtful planning, cooperative spirit and passion that created the Railroad Park, this plan can guide Birmingham toward its destiny as a great city.  Continue reading →